Vermelho Devagarinho: Contours of Luanda’s Crude Urban Revolution

Luanda has undergone tremendous changes over the past two decades. Amongst the wide range of transformations, there have been multiple emerging forms of official urbanism. A particular real estate market has been formed, novel planning configurations have risen and a new Luanda has been on the making. Drawing attention to the pivotal part played by oil and the dynamics of petrocapitalism, this paper takes cue from Ondjaki’s “os transparentes” to look at the lineaments of these emerging forms. In the novel Luanda is consumed by a fire after the attempt to extract oil from underneath her goes dreadfully awry. Amidst the calamity, a wise and knowledgeable blindman asks the kid with whom he had been wandering around the city to describe him the color of the conflagration. As the “bleeding city was being forced towards death,” he repeats insistently: “tell me only what the color of that fire is.” After struggling to find an answer, the kid finally replies. To his eyes the flames are red, a particular kind of red — a “vermelho devagarinho.” This paper aims to describe some of the tonalities of this red. Offering an interpretation of this fictionalized color by looking at the Luanda Sul Program, the establishment of the Luanda Institute of Planning and Urban Management and the construction of a new city in Kilamba, it unpacks what it calls Luanda’s “crude urban revolution.”

Ricardo Cardoso, CITTA – Universidade do Porto


Ricardo Cardoso is a visiting researcher at CITTA, the Research Center for Territory, Transports and Environment in the University of Porto. He has recently received a PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and he holds degrees from the University College London and the University of Porto. His work examines the relationship between the petro-capitalism and urban development in contemporary Luanda.